May 27, 2014 at 10:52 am

Coalition to deliver signatures needed to place minimum wage issue on Michigan ballot

Detroit — Saying Michigan residents “need a raise,” a grass-roots organization said Tuesday it was ready to deliver 300,000 signatures to Lansing for a ballot measure supporting a minimum wage increase to $10.10 per hour.

“We’ll continue to educate people on the issue,” said Danielle Atkinson, director of Mothering Justice and a member of the Raise Michigan Coalition. “We’re confident this is going to be on the ballot in November.”

Members of the coalition held a press conference outside the Coleman A. Young building and planned others in Flint and Kalamazoo on Tuesday. Members plan on delivering the signatures Wednesday to the Secretary of State’s office in Lansing.

The organization needs to gather a minimum 258,088 valid voter signatures to get the $10.10 proposal on the November ballot. Republican legislators are working on legislation to shortcircuit the attempt by eliminating the state’s 1964 minimum wage law and replacing it with a new law raising the wage by a lower amount.

The Senate approved a bill raising the current $7.40-an-hour rate to $9.20 by 2017. On Tuesday, the House Government Operations Committee proposed the state’s minimum wage would go to $8.50 an hour in four steps by 2017.

“We believe in the idea that the people of Michigan know what’s best for Michigan,” said Candace Cooper, a Detroit resident who estimated she alone has collected about 2,000 signatures supporting the $10.10 wage proposal. We need a voice. We have a right to petition our members of government for what we want. And the people of Michigan deserve a raise.”

Businesses, especially restaurant owners, oppose the the $10.10 proposal, saying it will cost jobs and hurt the economy. The Michigan Restaurant Association said the ballot proposal would mean layoffs or restaurants going out of business.

This is due in part to the proposal’s requirement that the current $2.65 an hour tipped wage be increased 85 cents annually until it reaches $10.10 an hour. By contrast, the Senate and House bills would raise the tipped wage to $3.50 and $3.23 an hour, respectively.

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